Court Dismisses, Discharge and Acquits Former NIMASA DG, Akpobolokemi Of N8.5bn Fraud Case


Briga News Nigeria

Justice Ayokunle Faji of the Federal High Court in Lagos, on Monday, discharged and acquitted the former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Akpobolokemi, from alleged N8,537,586, 798.58 billion fraud case.

Justice Faji cleared Akpobolokemi and an employee of NIMASA, Josphine Otuaga, of the 22-count charge of conspiracy, conversion, and stealing (by fraudulent conversion) brought against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The judge, while delivering a ruling on a no-case submission filed by the defendants, held that the EFCC failed to establish a prima facie (sufficient evidence) case against the duo.

However, the court ordered the former Commander of the Joint Task Force (JTF), Operation Pulo Shield, Major-General Emmanuel Atewe (rtd) and an employee of NIMASA, Kime Engonzu, to open their defence.

Justice Faji held that Atewe an Engonzu have a case to answer in counts 12 to 22 of the charge.

Akpobolokemi had, in a no-case submission filed by his lawyer, Dr Joseph Nwobike (SAN), asked the court for an acquittal without having him present a defence.
Nwobike had also argued that the prosecution, with all its witnesses and evidence tendered while making its case, failed to link his client to the alleged crimes.

In his ruling, Justice Faji held that none of the witnesses called by the Prosecution led any shred of evidence linking the first defendant and the fourth defendant to the offences they were charged with.

The court held that having regard to the totality of evidence led by the prosecution failed to provide any credible evidence linking the first defendant with the commission of the alleged crimes against him in Counts 1-11 of the first amended charge and established a prima facie case against him warranting him to enter upon his defence.

The judge also held that out of the 11 witnesses fielded by the Complainant, only one witness (PW 2) gave evidence where the name of the first defendant was featured. In contrast, other witnesses made it abundantly clear that they did not know the 1st Defendant and did not have any dealings with him.

Justice Faji, therefore, held that if there was no sufficient evidence linking the accused with the statutory elements and ingredients, a court of trial must, as a matter of law, discharge him.

He said the court has no business searching for evidence that is nowhere and, therefore, cannot be found.



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